Story highlights

New polls suggest president's standing with Americans continues to erode

Latest approval rating stands at 45%, according to CNN Poll of Polls

Anxiety and skepticism over healtcare law and sluggish economy appear to contribute to decline

Washington CNN —  

As he battles with congressional Republicans over the budget and the debt ceiling, and as a key component of his health care law kicks in, new polling suggests that President Barack Obama’s standing among Americans continues to deteriorate.

The president’s approval rating stands at 45%, according to a CNN average of four national polls conducted over the past week and a half. And a CNN Poll of Polls compiled and released Thursday also indicates that Obama’s disapproval rating at 49%.

In the afterglow of his re-election and second inauguration, the percentage of those approving of Obama’s job performance hovered in the low 50s as the year began, according to CNN Poll of Poll averages.

But his numbers slipped to the upper 40s by spring and now have edged down to the mid 40s. At the same time, his disapproval numbers have edged up from the low 40s to right around the 50% mark.

Anxiety and skepticism over the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, continuing concerns over the sluggish economy, and a drop in the president’s approval on foreign policy – once his ace in the hole – all appear to be contributing to the slide of Obama’s general approval rating.

“Not a precipitous drop, but more like a continued erosion in the president’s numbers,” says CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “The Boston Marathon bombings, Edward Snowden’s ‘big brother’ revelations, the ‘non-coup’ in Egypt, the ‘now we bomb, now we don’t’ policy in Syria, an economic recovery that remains disappointing, the uncertainty of how/what will change under the new health care system, shall I go on?”

“It all adds up to an awful lot of uncertainty and unfairly or not, uncertainty tends to breed lower poll numbers for the guy in charge,” added Crowley, anchor of CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Besides being the main indicator of a president’s standing with the public, a presidential approval rating is a good gauge of his clout in dealing with Congress.

The drop in his numbers comes as the president pushes back against attempts by congressional Republicans to use deadlines to keep the federal government funded and to extend the nation’s debt ceiling to try and defund the health care law.

A slew of national polls conducted this month indicate that a majority doesn’t support shutting down the government in order to defund Obamacare.

But if the fight shifts to the debt ceiling, public opinion appears to turn against the president, who reiterated on Thursday that he will not negotiate with the GOP in Congress over extending the debt ceiling.

“As for not letting America pay its bills, I have to say, no Congress before this one has ever – ever – in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default, to threaten an economic shutdown, to suggest America not pay its bills, just to try to blackmail a president into giving them some concessions on issues that have nothing to do with a budget,” Obama said at a healthcare rally in Maryland.

But two surveys released Wednesday, CBS News/New York Times and Bloomberg National Poll, indicate that a majority of the public rejects the president’s push to raise the debt ceiling with no strings attached.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the debt ceiling, which is the amount the federal government can borrow to pay its bills, must be raised by October 17 to prevent a possible default.

The president’s numbers may be nothing to brag about, but his polling still soars over that of Congress. The approval rating Congress ranges from 13% to 24% in five national polls conducted earlier this month, with the approval for congressional Democrats slightly higher than their GOP counterparts.

While the president’s approval rating doesn’t afford him much leverage, as Crowley points out, “it’s not anything Congressional Republicans can take to the bargaining table. Their approval ratings are consistently far worse than anything the president has posted.”

The new CNN Poll of Polls averages four non-partisan, live operator, national surveys that asked the approval rating question: Gallup daily tracking poll (September 22-24); Bloomberg National Poll (September 20-23); CBS News/New York Times (September 19-23); and American Research Group (September 17-20). Since it is an average of multiple surveys, the Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.